Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

March 8, 2014

Boys 16th Region: Tomcats enjoy Miller time (with photos, video)

Rested junior leads Ashland past Raiders


The Independent

MOREHEAD It’s hard to predict how basketball teams will handle extended layoffs.

But for Ashland, the eight days between their 64th District final loss and 16th Region Tournament quarterfinal were all good.

They allowed senior Nick Miller, who missed much of the latter part of the regular season with back trouble, extra time to get back to full strength. He scored 21 points, 17 of them in the first half, as the Tomcats beat East Carter 59-38 on Saturday night in Ellis T. Johnson Arena.

“Whenever I came in against Boyd (Feb. 28 in the district final), it was my second game,” Miller said. “I think (I had) maybe three or four practices, and I was definitely a little rusty. Eight days helped us all.”

The Tomcats (21-9) advanced to the semifinals of the region tournament for the eighth straight season. They did so by hitting 21 of their 37 shots — a scalding 56.8 percent — and holding the Raiders (15-14) to 14-for-49 shooting, or 28.6 percent, and 17.9 percent in the second half.

“I thought our defense was outstanding tonight,” Ashland coach Buddy Biggs said. “I thought we did a great job chasing shooters off the (3-point) line, and rebounding. I think we were plus-14 on the glass. Those were the big keys.”

Steven Friley cleared 16 of Ashland’s 36 rebounds. Damantie Thornton added 13 points, all in the second half for the Tomcats.

Friley and Miller comprise a significant size advantage for Ashland over East Carter that the Tomcats couldn’t exploit in a 61-60 loss to the Raiders Jan. 28 in Grayson.

They also played better defense Saturday than in that game.

“We improved on our defense a lot tonight,” Thornton said. “Last time we played (East Carter), we were jogging and everybody looked gassed, and today I think our defense was a lot better, and we finished a lot more.”

Ashland’s bigs also successfully avoided serious foul trouble Saturday, unlike in some contests this season.

“We wanted to call (Miller’s) number early and often,” Biggs said. “I thought he responded and did a great job tonight. Played one of his better halves for us tonight.”

Subsequently, the Raiders couldn’t account for everything Ashland could do.

“When we let (Miller) get those easy ones there to start the game, he really got in a rhythm, got to feeling it, and that makes it tough on you,” East Carter coach Brandon Baker said. “In the second half, we really paid more attention to him, but that just opened up lanes for other guys, and they took full advantage.”

Connor Greene paced the East Carter attack with 16 points.

The Raiders were within 34-28 on Greene’s bucket with 3:48 left in the third quarter, but Ashland reeled off seven straight points and held East Carter scoreless for more than three minutes.

Thornton scored the last five of those points, and the Raiders never got closer than nine after that.

“Ashland forced us to shoot poorly,” Baker said. “But it was just a tough night for us. Any time the ball doesn’t go in, it makes all the other aspects of the game that much more difficult. That’s the way it was tonight.”

Nevertheless, Baker said his team exceeded outside expectations this year.

“We were one of the final eight to play here, and that’s a credit to the team, how they handled the season,” he said. “They didn’t accept the perception of what everybody thought about them, and they had two big wins there in the district tournament. They’re 62nd District champs, and I’m proud of them for that.”

Awaiting Ashland is Greenup County, which shocked Rowan County 60-54 earlier Saturday.

The Tomcats beat the Musketeers 48-47 on Dec. 17 in Lloyd. One thing Biggs and Miller both noted is that Ashland does not hold nearly the size advantage over Greenup County as it does East Carter.

“It’s gonna come down to rebounding,” Biggs said. “A little easier said than done outrebounding those guys (Greenup County’s Jair Jackson and Brandon Johnson). We can’t replicate that size (and) we can’t replicate that jumping ability. So we’re gonna have to do another great job on the glass and either get even or get ahead.”


Text Only
Local Sports
  • 0729kypgaJr0034.jpg Golfers go out with an encore

    Evan Goble said he “wasn’t completely ready for a playoff” on Monday.
    That didn’t stop him from holing two pressure-packed playoff putts to win the 13-14-year-old division of the final event of the summer on the Kentucky PGA Junior Tour at Bellefonte Country Club.

    July 29, 2014 4 Photos

  • EKC Grid-O-Rama set for Aug. 15-16

    The annual Eastern Kentucky Conference football scrimmage contests are set for Aug. 15-16 at Fleming County and Raceland.

    July 29, 2014

  • Holliday embraces high expectations

    As Marshall football prepares to return to the gridiron to begin fall practice Aug. 4, this season the program finds itself labeled something that it has not been in many years: a favorite.

    July 29, 2014

  • Mobley, Jude key for EKU

    Eastern Kentucky coach Dean Hood has revamped the Colonels’ defense in hopes of containing OVC opponents’ spread offenses.

    July 29, 2014

  • ZACK KLEMME: Punchless Reds wasting solid pitching

    The last nine days have been an exercise in understanding just how slim the margin for error is for baseball teams — even good ones — that can’t score.

    July 27, 2014

  • 0726fbPrac0079.jpg Practice rolls on as kickoff approaches in less than 5 weeks

    As high school football teams strap on helmets and prepare for Friday nights next month, the theme of the first couple of weeks of practice for most is simple.
    You gotta work. Hard.
    And if you don’t, it’ll be exposed come Aug. 22.
    “Everybody looks good in helmets,” Ashland coach Tony Love said with a grin. “We’re all undefeated. There’s a lot of work to get done.
    “Our coaches and kids, we all know it, and that’s why they’re here and we’re here, and we’re gonna push hard every day.”

    July 25, 2014 4 Photos

  • kenzie-breaststroke.jpg Pennington makes push for Nationals

    Swimmer Kenzie Pennington had one last chance to make the cut for this year’s YMCA Long Course National Championships.
    The 15-year-old from Ashland didn’t disappoint.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Salyers shoots 75 for title at Lakeside

    Baylee Salyers of Flatwoods shot a 3-over par 75 at Lakeside Golf Course on Thursday to win the Girls Open division of the Walmart Kentucky PGA Junior Tour event.

    July 24, 2014

  • 0724putnamwebshot.JPG Laying the foundation Workers are finishing the foundation for the locker room on the home side of Putnam Stadium on Tuesday. The Ashland Tomcats open the football season on Aug. 22 against Newport Catholic.

    July 23, 2014

  • Genuine throwback

    Todd Eastham is disproving the old cliche, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

    July 23, 2014